Swift Cur­rent scouts talk to scouts around the world dur­ing Jam­boree on the Air

Prairie Post (East Edition) - - Swift Current - BY MATTHEW LIEBENBERG— mlieben­berg@prairiepost.com

Swift Cur­rent scouts were able to com­mu­ni­cate with scouts around the world dur­ing the an­nual Jam­boree on the Air (JOTA) with the help of lo­cal am­a­teur ra­dio en­thu­si­asts.

Mem­bers of the the Swift Cur­rent Group 2 Scouts spent time at Gowan's Grove, south of Swift Cur­rent, from Oct. 19-21, where they had the op­por­tu­nity to use the ra­dio equip­ment of South­west Am­a­teur Ra­dio Club mem­ber Ray Gowan to talk to other scouts.

Gowan and other lo­cal am­a­teur ra­dio en­thu­si­asts have been team­ing up with the Swift Cur­rent scouts for about 20 years to par­tic­i­pate in this in­ter­na­tional event.

“We started out just in dif­fer­ent peo­ple's houses that had sta­tions and then we did a cou­ple or three at the air­port at a club sta­tion we had there,” Gowan re­called. “Then prob­a­bly for 15 years we've been do­ing them here.”

Gowan's Grove, which is lo­cated next to the Swift Cur­rent Creek, is a great lo­ca­tion for the scouts to have an out­door ex­pe­ri­ence while they also learn about am­a­teur ra­dio and tech­nol­ogy.

“They seem to have a lot of fun do­ing things be­sides ra­dio,” he said.

JOTA started in 1958 and takes place on the third week­end of Oc­to­ber each year. The de­vel­op­ment of the in­ter­net re­sulted in the ad­di­tion of the Jam­boree on the In­ter­net (JOTI) in 1997. Both ac­tiv­i­ties are sanc­tioned by the World Or­ga­ni­za­tion of the Scout­ing Move­ment.

JOTA-JOTI is the largest scout­ing event in the world. In 2017 more than 1.5 mil­lion scouts in over 160 coun­tries par­tic­i­pated in JOTA-JOTI events and the goal was to have two mil­lion young peo­ple take part in the 2018 event.

South­west Am­a­teur Ra­dio Club mem­ber Lloyd Fehr, who has been in­volved with the scout move­ment for about 30 years, said the Swift Cur­rent Group 2 Scouts was the only scout group in the prov­ince that specif­i­cally par­tic­i­pated in the JOTA event this year through the use of ra­dio equip­ment.

“We want to do all the ham ra­dio gear and grow the pro­gram, be­cause it's a tiein be­tween ham ra­dio and scouts,” he men­tioned. “So you can get peo­ple in­ter­ested into elec­tron­ics and STEM [sci­ence, tech­nol­ogy, en­gi­neer­ing and math­e­mat­ics] fields.”

Dur­ing their time at Gowan's Grove the scouts par­tic­i­pated in a ra­dio di­rec­tion find­ing ex­er­cise and learned about morse code.

“We're teach­ing them morse code, we're teach­ing them how to do ef­fec­tive com­mu­ni­ca­tion, we're teach­ing them how to do tri­an­gu­la­tion and track­ing so that they can find things, com­mu­ni­cate well and be more well-rounded scouts,” he said.

Dur­ing the trans­mit­ter hunt­ing or fox hunt­ing ex­er­cise the scouts used hand­held ra­dio re­ceivers to find a bea­con.

“There is a bea­con sit­ting some­where at Gowan's Grove and they are are go­ing to try and find it us­ing tri­an­gu­la­tion,” he ex­plained. “So ev­ery­body has ra­dios, they're lis­ten­ing for the sig­nal strength, the stronger it gets the closer you are, and then us­ing a lit­tle bit of math they can find the bea­con and win a prize.”

The ra­dio equip­ment that were used for JOTA is set up in­side a cabin at Gowan's Grove. The scouts gath­ered around the ta­ble and they took turns to talk to other scouts when­ever South­west Am­a­teur Ra­dio Club mem­bers made con­tact with an­other group.

Fehr noted that the scouts talked about a va­ri­ety of things of in­ter­est to them, such as their scout­ing ac­tiv­i­ties, their favourite classes at school or their favourite sports teams, and the weather. Scouts in Dal­las, Texas, were sur­prised to hear how low the tem­per­a­ture al­ready was at the lo­ca­tion where the Swift Cur­rent scouts were talk­ing from.

The in­ter­ac­tion helped the scouts to gain a wider per­spec­tive on the world and to also de­velop an un­der­stand­ing of the shared ex­pe­ri­ences be­tween them and scouts in an­other part of the world as they talk about com­mon in­ter­ests.

“So it's kind of eye open­ing ex­pe­ri­ence,” he said. “They're camp­ing on a beach in Mex­ico. ... Here we're camp­ing in a lit­tle grove. So get­ting to think out­side of our lit­tle lo­cal area.”

Ac­cord­ing to Gowan they made con­tact with over 80 sta­tions over the week­end. The Swift Cur­rent scouts con­nected with scouts in Ger­many, Den­mark, French Guiana, Brazil, Hawaii and var­i­ous other sta­tions in the United States.

“It's just very in­ter­est­ing to reach out and you never know where you're go­ing to find the next group,” he said. “It could be any­where in the States or over in Europe. It's kind of ex­cit­ing. It's in­ter­est­ing to see how, as the sun moves through­out the day, the sta­tions come in from dif­fer­ent ar­eas.”

He noted that the re­cep­tion was good, even though the so­lar cy­cle is cur­rently at a low point. On Satur­day morn­ing the con­nec­tion with a sta­tion in Copen­hagen, the cap­i­tal of Den­mark, was very clear and it was also good when they talked to a sta­tion in Hawaii on Fri­day night.

“It was just like he was sit­ting on the hill over here, it was so clear,” he said about the Hawaii call. “It's been very good.”

They had two dif­fer­ent op­tions to try to con­nect with jam­boree sta­tions dur­ing the week­end when mak­ing a CQ or gen­eral call.

“Hun­dreds of jam­boree sta­tions are call­ing CQ and so you can just tune around and talk to the sta­tions that are call­ing, and you could be quite suc­cess­ful just do­ing that,” he said. “If you can find an open space on the band, we'll start call­ing CQ and sta­tions will start com­ing back to us. So there's peo­ple that move around and there's other sta­tions that tend to sort of stay in cer­tain places.”

They have ac­cess to thou­sands of dif­fer­ent fre­quen­cies, but they have to hunt around to find a use­ful one, be­cause fre­quency strength will vary with con­di­tions.

“As the con­di­tions change, some bands start to get bet­ter, some fade right out,” he said. “So you have to know which bands are ac­tive and watch. When the sun goes down this evening, the band that we're us­ing right now will just com­pletely dis­ap­pear. Then other bands will open up in the evening. We have such a range of fre­quen­cies that you can usu­ally find some­thing that's open.”

Gowan is hop­ing that their ex­pe­ri­ences dur­ing the JOTA-JOTI week­end will in­ter­est some scouts to be­come more in­volved with am­a­teur ra­dio.

“We've had some young peo­ple, some of the scouts, ac­tu­ally get their li­cense af­ter they came out two or three times,” he said. “It's a good hobby. There's so many dif­fer­ent ar­eas that you can ex­plore and whether you want to build an­ten­nas or build equip­ment or just buy stuff and get on the air with it, you can do lots of dif­fer­ent things.”

Photos by Mattheew Liebenberg

Cub Scout Gar­rett Went­worth (10) talks to an­other scout at Cape Cod, Massachusetts, Oct. 20. Seated next to him is South­west Am­a­teur Ra­dio Club mem­ber Mitchell Can­dler.

Lloyd Fehr (at left) gives a thumbs up to a scout who has talked to a group at Cape Cod, Massachusetts, Oct. 20.

South­west Am­a­teur Ra­dio Club mem­ber Ray Gowan ad­justs the ra­dio fre­quency while scouts try to talk to a group at Cape Cod, Massachusetts, Oct. 20.

South­west Am­a­teur Ra­dio Club mem­ber Carla Can­dler talks to scouts about morse code dur­ing the JOTA week­end at Gowan's Grove, Oct. 20.

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